Thursday, August 10, 2017

Greening the Laundry

Update: Unfortunately, after a couple of weeks of using the soap nuts, I found water backing up in the washer.  We suspect that the soap bubbles were causing a drainage block.  Interestingly, the washer would be dry when we emptied the clothes out of the washer, and then water would gradually back up over the next few days.  I'm still using soap nuts for handwashing and other uses.  One idea would be to further dilute the mixture and see if that would mitigate the problem. Hopefully you won't have this experience!  By to reduce my waste and exposure to chemicals with washing, I've subscribed to Dropp's for my laundry and dishwasher soaps (I don't receive any kickback from them for endorsing their product). Their soaps come in biodegradable packaging and , through their subscription service, arrives periodically at my doorstep in a nice cardboard box.  For these same convenience and reduced waste reasons, I also subscribe to toilet paper through Who Gives A Crap. I'm usually biking or walking to the grocery store, and with a subscription service that focuses on waste reduction, this is one less bulky thing that I need to carry.

One of the reasons I like to make my own food is because I like to know what I'm eating.  I'd also like to know what chemicals I'm being exposed to - like in the laundry.  I've long used powders, but while they do something to reduce waste and plastic, most still come in a plastic bag with a plastic scoop and lots of chemicals.  

I've started using soap nuts.  They're natural and organic.  They do have a high carbon footprint as they come from Nepal, but this brand uses their funds to help women in that country.  Beth Terry of My Plastic Free Life took soap nuts a bit further and passed along this liquid recipe.  It's easier than pie, but you do need to keep it refrigerated...and labeled so someone doesn't mistake it for ice tea!  I'm using this in my HE washer and my clothes come out clean and industrial chemical free.  

And, while I use a clothes line, my boyfriend likes a dryer...and dryer sheets.  He agreed to try a homemade and less toxic version.  I cut up some used but clean fabric into 8"x*inch squares and keep them soaking in a large plastic used yogurt container with a mix of white vinegar and water.  I've added a bit of lavender to give it a nice smell - and voila, a natural dryer sheet. You can reuse them indefinitely. Give it a whirl. 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Making Seitan - It's sooooo easy and inexpensive!

Seitan: It's not pretty but it's surprisingly good!
Am I the last person on earth to know about seitan? I first tasted it when I opted out of my friend's chili because it tasted like it had meat in it.  THAT was seitan.  Seitan is a high-protein vegetarian food made from cooked wheat gluten (which I found at Yes! Organic).  It's high in protein and low in cholesterol and fat. It can be used as a tofu substitute. You knead and add spices to it - and then let it simmer. It's now in my freezer. I followed this recipe on Epicurious - and found the comments to be very helpful. It was surprisingly easy to make and very inexpensive compared to the price you pay in any store.  I'm heading to the beach in a couple of weeks, and planning on cooking up a big pot of vegetarian chili. Seitan will be a key ingredient!  

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Did You Know that Paint Recycling has come to DC?

That's right!  Thanks to a partnership between and the DC Department of Energy and Environment, you can now recycle paint in the District of Colombia! There are drop off sites at certain paint stores around town.  You can find the drop-off location nearest you at  Acceptable items include house paint and primers, stains, sealers, and clear coatings (e.g., shellac and varnish).  Containers should be no more than 5 gallons in size, and the paint must be in its original container and the container must have a label and a secured lid. 

Other items such as aerosols (spray cans), solvents, and products intended for industrial or non-architectural use are not acceptable. 

If it's still in usable condition, the paint will be recycled and used.  Otherwise, it will be disposed of properly!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Spring cometh - so start getting your garden ready now!

Spring will soon be upon us, so it's time to start thinking about your garden NOW!!!  Here are a couple of to-dos:

1) It's not too early to start thinking about what you want to plant and where.  Tomatoes take a lot out of the soil, so if you've grown them in the same spot for the last two years, it's best to find a new spot - or give them a rest for a year.  If you want to participate in a community garden, start sussing that out now.  Spaces fill up quickly!

2) if you're going to grow vegetables and spices from seed, start getting your goods together now.  You'll need a heating mat, containers, soil....and seeds.  Participating in a local seed exchange is a great way to get a wide variety of seeds, and find other like minded local folk who are interested in gardening.  Check out to find a seed swap near you!

No automatic alt text available.3) Start saving the cardboard inside TP and paper towel rolls.  Cut in 1/2s and 1/3rds, these provide excellent protection for young seedlings....and it helps contribute to zero waste.

4) Mark the Rooting DC event on your calendar!  This year's event will be held on Saturday, February, 18 from 9am to 4pm at Wilson High School at 3950 Chesapeake St NW and very near the Tenleytown Metro. They offer wonderful workshops and resources on gardening and greening in DC.

Be green.  Live local. Persevere!